Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, Vimeo, and blogs.
The options for social media for writers (and others) is mind boggling. Dizzying. Overwhelming.
Here is how it begins.
You write some articles for a few online and print sources. The editors of these sources expect you to promote these pieces on your own social media sites. That drives traffic to their website.
But who wants to read entire articles on Facebook? Or Twitter? But still, it’s expected that you share.
Speaking of Twitter, did you know that Twitter has an option called TweetDeck for organizing and managing twitter lists and connections? I like lists! I like organizing.
But for now, I am still trying to figure out what the hell I am doing on Twitter. I’m not ready for tools. It’d be like gathering the hammer and nails before I know what I am building.
How does anyone follow hundreds, if not thousands of people? How can anyone possibly read all those tweets? I know, I know, they don’t. But what do they do? The answers are available to me, but I am busy writing. Or trying to.
But I must divide my time. Update and manage Twitter every four days, or something like that. I really should get on that.
And there’s that LinkedIn account that I barely remember creating. It just sort of happened. Like an unwanted, neglected child, it is the accident whose care I am half-assing. Oh the guilt.
And is it too soon to create a website? Perhaps that is best done after a book is published. And is the website necessary at all if you have a blog? Probably. Because the blog won’t have links to articles. Or will it? Should the blog be moved to the website?
So many questions. So many good answers. I need to get on that. All of it.
I read an article that had this message: It is not your job to babysit your writing once you publish it.
Finally, something to let go of!
And in theory, I agree. Once you hit publish, forget about it! Move on to your next writing project. Some people will like it and some won’t, every single time, and it’s not really your business to care.
Write. Publish. Promote. Ignore the rest.
But but but…if I hadn’t checked on an essay I shared on Facebook, I would’ve missed the thoughtful comment left by an old friend that I worked with twenty-five years ago, thus missing the opportunity to respond. That would’ve been a tiny bit sad.
Some of the “babysitting” of our work is just being a human.
I love writing.
And since I typically believe in my writing, I don’t really mind promoting it.
But we live in a time that encourages much more social media promotion than face to face promotion. It is more efficient. It’s economical.
Don’t get me wrong, I like sitting behind my laptop. Writing is a solo activity. I can barely tolerate the radio being on when I am creating. Too many voices.
But I sort of prefer promoting (if we must call it that) in person; reading my writing aloud, or just speaking it aloud to a live audience who is there to hear some stories. You know, like the way writers used to do it.
Fortunately though, some of it can still happen that way, if we want it to. We may have to create our own opportunities to do so, but what’s a writer without an entrepreneurial spirit?
I was at a writer’s event recently, and when the topic of social media came up, the man next to me, who was also middle-aged, looked pained.
“Do you have a Facebook or Twitter account?” he asked, hoping I’d say no.
“Yes, I do. But…
I wanted to convince him that it did not have to be painful, not really. That you can pick and choose your sites, and how often you use them, and..
“I hate all that”, he replied. “Maybe I should just quit now.”
And I am pretty sure I saw him give up his writing dreams, right before my eyes.
I don’t think J.K. Rowling was promoting writing all over social media before she published the Harry Potter series. I have the impression that she just quietly wrote her literary sensation and then later, perhaps, her staff put up a twitter account while she got to work on her next best seller. Why can’t we all be like J.K. Rowling?
Sometimes I think social media is just one way the universe is conspiring to take me away from writing, because writing is an unnecessary, frivolous endeavor that begs to be interrupted.
But other times, I think writing is the air that I breathe and a means of connecting us all, and that I will never stop, as long as I am able.
I am going to another writing conference next month. This one will be led by a senior literary agent from Writer’s Digest, and one other expert, a best-selling author.
Day two of the weekend-long event will be dedicated to “positioning your book for success in today’s difficult publishing climate”.
Part of that will include helping us to navigate this maze that is social media, and to organize and prioritize our writer’s brand. And they will do it in person. In the flesh. Preferably while holding our hands.
After the workshop, I will put my media ducks in a row, and lift my head to the surface, the place of starting to have it all figured out. From there I will continue writing. Or breathing. It’s all the same to me.